Report Date

July 2020

Introduction

On February 27 and 28 of 2020, The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, convened the first meeting of the Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning (TLS) Working Group for Criminal Justice Applications. The TLS Working Group (TLSWG) will support the NIJ-FTCoE’s goals of improving the practice and strengthening the impact of forensic science through rigorous technology corroboration, evaluation, and best practices dissemination.

While the use of this technology is increasing in criminal justice applications, no standardized, vendor agnostic guidelines for use are currently available for end users. The goal of the working group is to develop resources that reflect consensus-based best practices to standardize and improve the use and application of TLS in crime scene documentation and reconstruction. These deliverables will help establish a minimum standard for capture, processing, analysis, visualization, presentation, and storage of TLS data in a forensic context. These resources are intended to promote uniform implementation and use of TLS technology in practice. This will ultimately improve the practitioners’ ability to attain scientifically supportable conclusions from TLS data, ensure effective quality management procedures, and improve presentation of this information to stakeholders, including law enforcement, investigators, and the courts (e.g. prosecutors and defense attorneys, judges, and juries).

Click here to read the full Report

Resources

 

A Landscape Study of 3D Crime Scene Scanning Devices

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Webinar: Utility of 3D Scanning Technologies Workshop Archival

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Report Date

May 2020

Introduction

Impressions of shoe and tire tracks are common types of evidence found at a crime scene that be used to evidentially link a suspect to a crime or generate important investigative leads in a case. However, analysis of these footwear outsole and tire tread designs is challenging due to the variations in product design, impression quality, and surrounding environment of the impressions. Proper collection of the evidence is often limited by the crime scene investigator’s skill level, the quality of the equipment, and the amount of time available to accurately photograph and cast the impressions. Dr. Song Zhang at Purdue University is developing a 3D imaging system for footwear and tire impressions to overcome these challenges. This system is based on an optical 3D scanning system that uses a binary defocusing technique and an auto-exposure control method to capture highly detailed images.

“Purdue’s 3D scanner promises to be a game changer as it allows the fast collection of the 3D detail of impressions with minimal training.”

—James Wolfe, Alaska State Crime Laboratory, retired

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Resources

 

Webinar: Portable Advanced 3D Imaging for Footwear and Tire Impression Capture

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Forensic Science Research and Development Technology Working Group

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Technical Note: Modifications to Capillary Microextraction in Volatiles (CMV) for the Extraction of Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILRs) 

Report Date

March 2020

Description

This report summarizes the development and implementation of a novel sampling device (capillary microextraction of volatiles [CMV]) invented in the Almirall research group at Florida International University for ILR extraction as an alternative to current techniques. The versatility of the CMV device has the potential for field sampling applications when coupled with portable analytical systems, and it has been successful in the following studies: sampling volatile compounds generated by explosives, detecting marijuana plants, detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from amphetamines, analyzing breath samples, sampling organic gunshot residue (OGSR) VOCs, and sampling BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and the three xylene isomers) compounds in environmental studies. This report is intended for forensic practitioners who want to better understand newly developed technologies and their use and application to forensic casework.

Click here to read the full Technical Note 

Resources

 

Success Story: NIJ and Jensen Hughes: Advancing the
Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Fuel Fires.

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Fire Debris Analysis is Not Black Magic!

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TECHNICAL NOTE: Detection of Organic Gunshot Residue
Using Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles with Cyrofocusing

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This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since 2008, the RTI Press has produced more than 100 publications.

Report Date

February 2019

Abstract

The 2019 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Science Research and Development (R&D) Symposium is intended to promote collaboration and enhance knowledge transfer of NIJ-funded research. The NIJ Forensic Science R&D Program funds both basic or applied R&D projects that will (1) increase the body of knowledge to guide and inform forensic science policy and practice or (2) result in the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods that have the potential for forensic application. The intent of this program is to direct the findings of basic scientific research; research and development in broader scientific fields applicable to forensic science; and ongoing forensic science research toward the development of highly discriminating, accurate, reliable, cost-effective, and rapid methods for the identification, analysis, and interpretation of physical evidence for criminal justice purposes.

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NIJ’s FTCoE and Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group

 

Report Date

December 2019

Introduction

Recognizing the many challenges associated with adopting new technologies and other innovations in forensic science organizations, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) in 2018. FLN-TWG provides a forum for which forensic practitioners and researchers can develop coordinated approaches to addressing technology implementation challenges for the forensic science community.

Housed at NIJ and supported by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), FLN-TWG membership is comprised of crime laboratory directors or managers and academic researchers who meet regularly to share ideas, assess the impact of new technologies on the criminal justice system, and identify paths forward for implementation. The group’s mandate encompasses the full range of needs facing federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions; FLN-TWG is designed to clear roadblocks that have prevented broad, successful adoption of promising technologies.

This in-brief provides a summary of FLN-TWG’s goals and outputs of the first meeting and provides a list of programs and resources that can promote technology adoption by crime laboratories.

“I’m very pleased to welcome the newly created working group members and grateful for their willingness to take part in this important endeavor. I look forward to hearing their valuable input and working together toward strengthening the relationship between the Justice Department and forensic science practitioners.”

              —David Muhlhausen, NIJ Director

Click here to read the full In-Brief

Resources

 

ARTICLE: NIJ Supporting Crime Lab Directors and the Formation of the Forensic
Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group, May 29, 2018

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ARTICLE: NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group
— Opening a New Channel
to Improve Forensics, August 27, 2018

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Department of Justice Priorities, Forensic Science Policies, and Grant Programs

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NIJ and Florida International University

Report Date

April 2019

Impact

“I’m impressed with the potential for replacement wet color tests. The multiplexing capabilities have potential to address the challenges field forensics investigators encounter with non-pure, intermixed drugs as well as unknown powders.” —Dr. Michael Buerger, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice, Bowling Green State University, and former New Hampshire police officer

Click here to read the full report

Links

McCord Laboratory

FTCOE Webinar: Paper Microfluidic Devices for Fieldable Forensic Testing

TEDx talk

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Just the Evolution of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a campaign designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and provide methods to prevent it. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Just Science interviewed Dr. Pat Speck, a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and professor at the University of Alabama – Birmingham School of Nursing, about sexual assault testing and victim-centered care.

Sexual assault evidence collection has changed dramatically over the years. From the original test tubes and cotton stoppers to the advanced sexual assault kits in use today, advancements in science have fundamentally altered the process of testing for sexual assault. Listen in as Dr. Speck discusses her research, the importance of trauma-informed care, and evolution of sexual assault evidence collection in this episode of Just Science. 

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Dr. Patricia M. Speck graduated from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing in 1982 (BSN), 1985 (MSN), and 2005 (DNSc). After retiring from UTHSC College of Nursing as the DNP Public Health Nursing and DNP Forensic Nursing Concentration Coordinator, she joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing (SON) in the Department of Community Health, Outcomes, and Systems. Currently Dr. Speck is a Professor and Coordinator of the graduate Advanced Forensic Nursing program of study. She experiences international recognition as a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and expert in advanced forensic nursing care of patients experiencing an intersection with the legal system. She consults with the Department of Justice as a subject matter expert in forensic nursing and evidence, with universities desiring forensic nursing curriculum, nursing specialty organizations desiring Consensus and curriculum in forensic nursing, and internationally in Africa, Eurasia, the Caribbean, and Central, South and North America with governments, universities, institutions, and Non-Governmental Organizations to evaluate and implement infrastructure change in a coordinated community response to victims of violence. As a family nurse practitioner – forensic nursing practice expert, she has seen or supervised the care of over 15,000 acutely victimized persons. She researches, develops policy, evaluates programs, and builds nursing workforce capacity through publication, education, and violence prevention initiatives that raise awareness about trauma and health. She partners with forensic laboratory experts to collect samples for research about extended post coital intervals and produced evidence in 2015 and again in 2019 to expand timing for DNA detection with enhanced methods in reproductive aged minority and non-minority women, with global implications. She is actively involved in national policy as a member of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Global Health Expert Panel and the Violence Expert Panel. She was President of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) (2003-2004), Chair, American Public Health Association’s Family Violence Prevention Forum/Caucus (2011-2013) and is a current Academy of Forensic Nursing (AFN) and Forensic Nursing Certification Board (FNCB) member. She teaches the next generation of forensic nurses at UAB SON and through an AFN Journal Club. Her awards include: Fellow American Academy of Forensic Sciences (2008), Distinguished Fellow, IAFN (2001), Distinguished Fellow, AFN (2018), and Fellow, AAN (2002). She is the recipient of over 25 awards and received the Lifetime Professional Impact Award from End Violence Against Women International in 2017.

 


Additional Resources:

 

Sexual Assault Reform FTCoE Resources

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Just the Double Loop Podcast Crossover

In episode nine of the Identification season, Just Science sits down with Heidi Eldridge, from RTI international, along with Eric Ray and Glenn Langenburg, the co-hosts of the Double Loop Podcast, to discuss the nature of the respective podcasts.  

The Double-Loop podcast has been around for over five years now. While its origin can be traced back to a Game of Thrones conversation over dinner, it has grown into a successful podcast with a large forensic professional following. Eric Ray and Glenn Langenburg are respected voices in the forensic community and use their podcast as an opportunity to educate others about latent print topics. In this episode, Just Science sits down with Glenn and Eric to discuss history, inspiration, and the challenges facing their respective podcasts. 

If you’re interested in hearing more about latent print topics, current events in forensic science, the newest research articles, and the analysis of notable cases from a forensic scientist perspective, listen to Double Loop here.

This season is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 

 


 

Glenn Langenburg is a certified latent print examiner at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and also manages a consulting business (Elite Forensic Services, LLC). He has experience with crime scenes and bloodstain pattern evidence and he is certified as a general criminalist by the American Board of Criminalistics. Glenn has a Ph.D. in Forensic Science from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. His thesis, “A Critical Analysis and Study of the ACE-V Process”, focuses on decision-making and the application of ACE-V by fingerprint experts. Glenn has lectured and hosted workshops nationally and internationally at forensic science conferences in the United States, Canada, and Europe on topics including Daubert issues, research, probabilistic approach, error rates, and fingerprint methodology. He has published numerous research articles in peer reviewed journals. Glenn has the privilege of serving the fingerprint community as a member of SWGFAST (Scientific Working Group for Friction Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology). He also co-hosts a weekly podcast, “The Double Loop Podcast”, on fingerprint topics with Eric Ray. Most recently, Glenn has taken on a new role at the Minnesota BCA as a Forensic Science Supervisor of the Drug Chemistry Section.

Eric Ray has been employed as a Forensic Scientist since 2007 and is a Certified Latent Print Examiner. He earned a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in 2000. As a member of the IAI, Eric is on the Editorial Board of the JFI. As the president of Ray Forensics, Eric has published and presented extensively on the exclusion decision in latent fingerprint comparisons and is developing new extensions to customize Photoshop for latent print examiner use. In his spare time he also co-hosts the Double Loop Podcast, a weekly show on fingerprint topics.

 

 

 

 


Additional Resources:

2018 Impression, Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

IAI Training

Double Loop Podcast on Soundcloud

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Just Forensic Technician Vicarious Trauma

In episode eight of the Identification season, Just Science interviews Selena McKay-Davis, lead senior forensic specialist at Riverside Police Department, about job-related stress for forensic technicians and sworn peace officers.

As a forensic technician Selena McKay-Davis is confronted daily with scenes where crimes were committed, and sometimes these scenes are violent or even gruesome. The stress of the position and the daily exposure to violence can make a long term career in this occupation very difficult. While there is research surrounding the trauma that sworn peace officers experience, little is known about the trauma experienced by civilian forensic technicians. During her graduate studies, Selena McKay-Davis identified this gap in knowledge.  Listen along as she discusses her graduate thesis topic covering the similarities and differences between the trauma experienced by officers and civilian forensic technicians

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 

 


Selena McKay-Davis has fifteen years of experience as a Forensic Specialist, and currently serves as the lead Senior Forensic Specialist at a medium sized California police department. Her duties require her to assist the investigation of all manner of crime scenes (from officer line of duty deaths to burglaries) through the provision of crime scene processing services, laboratory evidence analysis, court testimony, and basic latent print identification. Additionally, she operated for two years as a Coroner Technician at the Riverside County SheriffÕs Department. She has experience teaching criminal justice, forensics and crime scene investigation related curriculum to two for-profit colleges, police department employees, and community members ranging in age from elementary school to senior citizens. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology from California State University-San Bernardino and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Sciences from National University.


Additional Resources:

2018 Impression, Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

IAI Training

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Just Forensic Microanthropology

In episode seven of the Identification season, Just Science interviews Carlos Gutierrez, a lecturer at Chaminade University of Honolulu, about the new field of Forensic Microanthropology. After finding an unidentified bone, forensic anthropologists must first determine if it belonged to a human or an animal. If it’s an animal bone, they can move on to other case work, but human remains require a much more involved and expensive forensic processes such as DNA testing. For developing countries these tests can be too expensive and time consuming. With limited resources and tight timelines, Carlos Gutierrez wanted to find an affordable and timely way to analyze remains and differentiate between human and animal bones. It was through this need that Forensic Microanthropology was born. Listen along as he discusses the details of Forensic Microanthropology in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 

 


 

Carlos A. Gutierrez, MSFS, Master of Science in Forensic Science, Lecturer of Forensic Science in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Chaminade University of Honolulu. Science Director and Instructor of True Forensic Science LLC.

Mr. Gutierrez earned his college degree of Public Security Administration at Carabineros de Chile school in 2001. In 2002, earned his certificate Reforma Procesal Penal y sus Efectos en la Función Policial (Criminal Procedure Reform and its Impact on the Police Function) dictated by the Police Science Academy of Carabineros de Chile. Then, in 2003, obtained his specialization in Criminalistics in Carabineros de Chiles police agency. Later on, Mr. Gutierrez earned several certificates of different courses made in Argentina, Germany, Spain, Peru and the US. In 2012 obtained his Master degree in Educational Management at Andres Bello University in Chile. Then, in 2016 earned his Master in Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) at Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA.

Throughout his career Mr. Gutierrez has performed important positions such as Subdirector of the Criminalistics Laboratory of Carabineros de Chile police agency in the city of Punta Arenas (Chile), expert of the Ballistics Laboratory of the Criminalistics Laboratory of Carabineros de Chile police agency in the city of Santiago (Chile), Chief of the Copyright and Forensic Anthropology at the same Chilean forensic agency and Director of the Criminalistics Laboratory of Carabineros de Chile police agency in the city of Talca (Chile).

Within Mr. Gutierrez’s professional performance, it can be distinguished his work in the identification processes at different massive disasters, among which we can mention, Chief of the forensic identification team of the fatalities at the fire of the Blue House II hostel, in the city of Punta Arenas on February 3rd, 2007 (Chile); and, forensic identification of the fatalities of the big Earthquake and Tsunami on February 27th, 2010 in the city of Constitution (Chile). This last two years, Mr. Gutierrez has worked in the development of a technique, based on Forensic Microantropology, which allows to identify and to determine whether any small bone fragment found in the crime scene is human or not-human. His prominent professional performance, has opened him the doors to several international associations in the forensic field such as: Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología Forense (ALAF), Asociación de Antropología Biológica Argentina (AABA), International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), The International Association for Identification (IAI), The International Association of Chief of Police (IACP), American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) and Colegio de Criminalistas de Chile (COLCRIM).

 

 


Additional Resources:

2018 Impression, Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

IAI Training